As out-of-town travel continues to rebound amid the reduction in numbers and severity of COVID-19, Alamance County’s leaders have found that they have considerably more revenue from the special tax that visitors must pay on their overnight accommodations.
Earlier this week, the county’s board of commissioners made plans to distribute an additional $435,754 in funds from this so-called occupancy tax, which hotels and motels are required to remit to support programs and organizations that encourage travel and tourism.
The board of commissions agreed to add this sum to the county’s current occupancy tax allocations on Monday based on a marked increase in the proceeds from this particular levy.
According to the county’s administrators, the local occupancy tax has come in some 75 percent higher than anticipated during the first seven months of the current fiscal year. They consequently encouraged the commissioners to revise the annual budget for this tax from their original estimate of $834,200 to a new figure $1,269,954.
The increase which prompted the commissioners to make this amendment is the result of more than just a lowball prediction in the county’s budget. The budget’s original figures had been based on the previous year’s proceeds, which were substantially reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the county’s finance department, the first seven months of the previous finance cycle had seen the occupancy tax bring in just $405,249 – in contrast to $712,652.26 that the county took in during the same period this year.
The current year’s haul is just as impressive when compared to the period immediately before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the county’s finance department, the occupancy tax had generated $556,210.43 between July 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020 – a difference of $156,441.83 from the county’s latest seven-month total.
One side effect of the pandemic has been a decrease in the number of programs and organizations that are jockeying for the proceeds of the occupancy tax. Under state law, the county is obligated to give the lion’s share of these funds to a local tourism development authority.
This authority received an additional $290,503 under the revised allocations which the commissioners adopted on Monday. The rest of the levy’s revenue is currently divvied up among four organizations – namely, Alamance Arts, the Glencoe Textile Museum, the Alamance Historic Museum, and the newest recipient: the county’s African-American Cultural Arts and History Center.
Under Monday’s approved allocations, the African-American Center will receive another $41,572 in addition to the $46,663 that it had already been promised. Alamance Arts will get $39,344 on top of its previous allocation of $75,320. The Alamance Historic Museum is slated to receive an extra $24,375 over and above its earlier allotment of $79,585. Meanwhile, the textile museum’s original allocation of $76,478 has been increased by another $39,960.